US retail and food services sales recorded their biggest rise in five months in November, a sign of strengthening economic growth, the Department of Commerce reported Thursday. The department said combined sales in November increased 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted 432.3 billion U.S. dollars. It followed a 0.6 percent gain in October and matched the growth rate in June. Economists had expected sales to advance 0.6 percent. Consumers increased spending on several categories, including motor vehicles and building materials, both of which jumped 1.8 percent. Excluding the volatile auto sector, retail and food services sales totaled 349 billion dollars, 0.4 percent higher than the previous month. The increase in retail sales excluding vehicles indicated U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activities, generally has maintained its momentum.